2010 Panini Crown Royale Confuses Me

There is one question I have been asking lately, and that is in regards where the Panini design team has been hiding. They obviously havent been designing good looking cards, so I was curious if they even actually existed. Well, I think I found the answer. They have been holed up trying to complete the design for Crown Royale football, a new product in the Panini line. Not that the cards are even that good, just that they are so utterly complicated that it must have taken them 10 minutes to design the cards instead of the usual 2.

All kidding aside, Im not sure how I feel about these cards. A few of them look like playing cards, and others look straight out of the 17th century due to their ornate designs. The problem seems to be that some of these cards are so busy and complicated in their border work that I don’t know where to look. The other problem is that these cards from the preview are the ridiculously low numbered parallels that feature both the autos and the jerseys, so what happnes when you subtract elements but don’t change the design, as Panini normally does? I think the single jersey cards of the Peterson and the Montana, as well as the Bryant and the Brady are going to look ridiculously unbalanced and top heavy.

As for the base design, I think its terrible. When you add in the auto, like on the Bradford, its worse. Im not sure why they are trying to stuff a sticker onto the card when it obviously has no place to go. That is poor planning and the base design should have been adjusted if that was the plan all along.

Im also torn on how I feel about the Royalty cards. I think they would definitely fit in a set like National Treasures, and the concept is interesting in the way the cards are designed. Again this subset plays into the overall theme of the product, and Im still not sold on that as a whole. I get that Pacific made these cards famous, but I don’t really see the appeal of creating a set based on a defunct brand that produced some really ugly cards.

This may in fact be one of the products that we need to see the finished product before we can pass final judgement, but right now, im still deciding if cards like the Peterson and the Gerhart have enough spunk to carry a product that doesn’t seem to pack a lot of punch. It is pre-selling at under $100 on ATLSportscards, and from the layout, it looks like it is going to be similar to Absolute with 1 hit per pack, 2 autos per box. Street date is set for the same week as Topps Chrome, so I guess its not a surprise that there hasn’t been much pub on it.

2010 Panini Certified Looks Worse Than Anything Yet

Leaf Certified Materials, now Panini Certified has been around forever. The Fabric of the Game subset has produced some amazing cards across the span of the product’s existence, and it is usually a celebrated part of the football calendar. Over the last few years, Certified has gone from a celebrated product to “meh” to absolutely terrible, and this year’s set may be the worst thing I have ever seen to come out of Panini’s house. Although we only have a few cards from the set, the common theme and design of the product is so bad, that I actually laughed.

The fact that Panini is willing to stake one of their most popular sets on a shitty design like Certified showcases this year, makes me wonder if the people over there are even trying with football anymore. If this year’s National Treasures Basketball is any indication, its not like they are focusing on the Basketball designs either, so this begs a very important question: WHO HIRED THIS BUSH LEAGUE DESIGN TEAM? Jesus, this is just terrible.

Starting with the base cards, it looks like someone was carrying the printing plates and dropped them on the floor on the way to the press. The result looks like a fractured mirror and it looks absolutely horrid. When you add in jersey and autograph in typical Panini fashion, like they did for the rice, it becomes a complete and utter Dexter McClusterfuck.

Oddly enough, the only cards that anyone cares about are not present in this preview, and those are the freshmen fabric cards. Last year’s werent a complete disaster like 2008, but they still left a lot to be desired. I figure these will shape up more like the 2008 than anything, if not a hell of a lot worse.

Lastly, the Fabric of the Game cards don’t look terrible, but that isnt the point. They are basically the 2009 design with minor tweaks, and that is BEYOND frustrating. It shows that Panini is getting very lazy with their updates, and its going to be a long time before we get any sort of innovation again.

Panini, you are heading the way of worry faster than I can say Ndamukong Suh, and that is a pretty scary situation for football collectors who depend on good looking cards to build their collection.

Another Reason to Hate Panini – Peyton Manning Signs the First NFL Exclusive Deal

UPDATE: According to an alternate source MANNING IS NOT EXCLUSIVE FOR AUTOGRAPHS, just for packaging. Rovell was mistaken. Jason has forwarded me the official release, and it looks like Manning is just their new “Trading Card Ambassador.”

This is bad, and I didn’t even think it was allowed actually. From what I am getting, it seems as though Panini has secured the first exclusive license to a player in the NFL. In the past, the players of the NFL have not been encouraged to sign specific deals with card companies that prevent them from being used in other products, maybe even prevented from doing so. Although both NBA and MLB allow similar player deals, and those deals were responsible for exclusives like LeBron James and Ken Griffey Jr, the NFL has never had that type of situation. Leave it to Panini to open pandora’s box, if it has indeed been opened.

Exclusive deals are the succubus that drains the hobby of its lifeblood. I actually should have added them as number six to my list of terrible things going on right now. Even though Topps is seemingly doing a good job in baseball with their exclusive, I think its pretty obvious how terrible the Panini license is in Basketball. If you don’t believe me, go check out a video break of any of their products. Compared to Upper Deck’s track record on the awesome Basketball products they have made, Panini’s products might as well be NSA patch cards. Because LeBron and Jordan are Upper Deck exclusives to begin with, the whole exclusive license has a ginormous hole where they should be.

The bottom line is that exclusives suck harder than an IHOP waitress in Tiger Wood’s hotel room. I hate them in every way, especially player and league exclusives. Besides being completely counterproductive to the overall spread of the industry, they prevent a lot of the best things of the past from happening. We will never be able to have Jeter sign a card with A-rod because of the exclusives that are in place for both players. Michael Jordan will never be able to be on another card with Kobe under the current arrangement, even when Kobe probably breaks some of MJ’s records in the future. League exclusives are even more terrible because of the way it prevents some of the collector’s favorite products from being released. I may despise some of the products Topps makes in football, but I do not want them to be prevented from at least trying to improve them. Same with UD in baseball and basketball. Variety is the key to hobby success and from what we have seen, without competition, there is very little good that comes out of an exclusive.

Beyond all of this bullshit regarding league exclusives and player exclusives, the NFL has never been one to buy into it. Whether it was by force or by choice, they found NO reason to limit the exposure of their players. Now that Peyton Manning, one of the biggest draws in the NFL has supposedly signed an exclusive with Panini, its going to be a mad dash for the companies to scoop up whatever players they can. Then they are going to start in on the rookies, and then who knows. By the end of this year, National Treasures may have some players or rookies and Topps Triple Threads may have others. As much as I thought NT was eye burningly terrible last year, Triple Threads was worse, and I do not want to be forced out of getting autographs I could normally secure without need for consideration of exclusives.

All I can say is that this is not good for anyone. Fuck Panini and their stupid exclusives if they think this is good for cards. Ill just add it to the long list of reasons why they are the Kia of the sports card business. Hope all you Peyton Manning collectors love stickers and foilboard.

2010 Panini Classics is Live, Disappointing

Classics is live, and from what we see in a case break on blowout, there are going to be some pretty disappointing results for this product if things hold true for the rest of the cases out there. Although there is a reported two autos per box and two jersey cards per box, the presence of veteran player autos and worthwhile rookies is looking small. That is definitely the bad news that no one wants to hear, but there is more bad news that comes along with it.

First, the floating swatches are back. Some of these cards are so obvious in the backwards design that I am left wondering if Panini just forgot to add the sticker to the card. See, because Panini has the same formula for every one of these sets, the parallels make no sense along the way. Instead of starting with the blank base card and moving forward, they start with the auto jersey and take things away until they get to the base card. What happens is that you are left with weird looking cards that have swatches in weird places. The obvious solutions would be to avoid the jersey cards all together and add another band of autos to the checklist, but we know that Panini is still all about keeping the simple jersey around for posterity’s sake. Another solution would be to start with a good looking base card and add the jersey, then add the auto to avoid the look like they are floating. I know it takes some elbow grease, and that isnt something the Panini design team may be used to using, but it needs to be done.

Lastly, they really needed to re-evaluate the autos in this set, as the stickers are not looking like they show up against the background and player. These cards are 150 million times better than last year, but they still make me want to jump face first onto a pile of forks when it comes to the overall presentation. It really makes me angry that they are so lackadazical when designing their cards, as it is blatantly obvious that these cards were made without any creativity or effort. Again, still MUCH MUCH better than last year, but it leaves massive amounts of potential on the table.

Overall, I am pretty disappointed with what I have seen, hopefully things get better as more of the product is opened.

Taking Two Leaps Backwards With 2010 Absolute Football

I think that if you read my previous post about suggestions for moving forward in the industry, Absolute is the one set that infringes on just about every single one of those rules. Aside from the fact that the product hasn’t changed design-wise at all in the last however many years, Panini never seems to get how poorly the product holds up against others in the same price range. What used to be a fun product with innovative cards has become stale, overpriced, and poorly designed to say the least. I would even go so far as saying that this is the one product that Panini needs to axe or revamp, because right now, it’s a dinosaur compared to what it could be.

Now, I will say that this year’s offering looks better than last year’s horrid excuse, but it still has not veered from that same old design that never offers anything worth collecting in my opinion. This product will again be riddled with damage evident foilboard on EVERY card, sticker autos across the product, subsets that are paralleled to hell in the typical panini way, and cards that are so weirdly conceived that I don’t even know where to look. When you hearken back to 2005 and see how cool and popular Absolute Baseball was, this is a vanquished shell of that former greatness. Really too bad.

Here are the preview cards: